At a Glance: COVID’s Impact on the 2021-22 Season
What’s Happening: On Nov. 15, it was announced that the Ottawa Senators would have its next three games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team. At the time, Associate Coach Jack Capuano and 10 players were placed in COVID protocol, including forwards Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell and Austin Watson; defensemen Josh Brown, Nick Holden, Victor Mete, and Nikita Zaitsev; and goalie Matt Murray. This is the first occurrence this season of games being postponed due to COVID-19.
COVID’s Impact to Date: In addition to the current situation in Ottawa, numerous players and over half of the league’s teams have been impacted by COVID-19. Stars like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O'Reilly, and Mark Scheifele have all spent time in the protocol.
The next worst outbreak, behind that of the Senators, happened from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12 with the San Jose Sharks. While their Head Coach, Bob Boughner, and seven players were in the protocol at once, no games were postponed. The Sharks managed to stay afloat during this trying stretch, putting up a 3-2-1 record, and currently sit just outside of a Western Conference Wild Card spot.
Shot vs. No Shot: As most know, the public debate goes on regarding if getting vaccinated should be made mandatory. Considering it from the NHL’s perspective, it appears as though having nearly all NHLers vaccinated is paying off. In 2020-21, 15 games from the first month alone were rescheduled due to COVID outbreaks.
But knowing that being indoors increases transmission, maybe the difference between then and now comes from the first month of the previous season taking place in January; maybe the Senators’ situation now is only the first of many troubles this season, with more coming this winter. In any case, as far as we know, no NHLers have had major vaccine-related complications and all have come back after contracting the virus, most likely due to the vaccines’ effectiveness.
However, since all NHLers are in peak physical condition, you might be wondering if they would have been fine without it. But what about Josh Archibald, Alex Stalock, and Brandon Sutter, who still struggle from COVID-related symptoms? With so many variables involved, it’s hard to be certain of anything. However, one thing we all can agree on is that we hope this season goes smoothly and the players and staff remain healthy.